Wyoming news briefs for July 19


Man sentenced to prison for grocery store assaults

CHEYENNE –  A man who pleaded guilty to assaulting multiple people inside the King Soopers supermarket last August has been sentenced to eight to10 years in prison for his actions.

Mathew Roy Sandoval was sentenced July 6 by Laramie County District Judge Steven Sharpe.

Sharpe said he took Sandoval’s extensive criminal history, along with the “aggravating factors” of drug and alcohol abuse and choosing not to take medication for a mental illness, into account when considering the sentence.

One of Sandoval’s victims and her husband testified during the hearing.

“No one warns you that you may become a victim of sexual assault and attempted kidnapping at noon on a Saturday in the middle of a busy grocery store. Because of predators like Mr. Sandoval, I now feel that danger constantly,” the woman said.

On Aug. 22, a Cheyenne police officer responded to a report of aggravated assault and battery at King Soopers, 3702 Dell Range Blvd. A woman was shopping when Sandoval tried to block her way, according to court documents. When she tried to go around him, he verbally threatened her and touched her inappropriately.

The woman shouted for help and said she observed Sandoval groping other women as he walked away from her, according to court documents. When he was approached by the woman’s husband, Sandoval pulled something from his pocket and threatened to cut the man’s throat.

An off-duty Cheyenne police sergeant witnessed parts of the incident and identified himself, ordering Sandoval to stop, according to court documents. Sandoval ignored him, opened a bottle of vodka and began drinking it in the store. Sandoval then groped another woman, and was quickly taken to the ground by the off-duty officer and other men.

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Man pleads guilty to attempted burglary of Wyoming Downs

GILLETTE –- A man suspected of trying to break into two safes at Wyoming Downs in late December has pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.

The charge against Devon Jade Duane Tutor, 31, was reduced from aggravated burglary as part of a plea agreement in which a felony charge of possessing burglary tools also was dismissed. Prosecutors will recommend a three- to five-year prison sentence, suspended in favor of a 15-day split sentence in county jail and then three years of supervised probation.

The aggravated burglary charge had been made because Tutor was allegedly carrying a pistol in a thigh holster, which would have meant a stiffer penalty.

Video surveillance showed that between 10 p.m. Dec. 19 and 3 a.m. Dec. 20, a man broke off a lock on a door to Wyoming Downs and pried open two doors leading into the office area, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He tried several times to open two safes.

In the video, police could see that the suspect was wearing what appeared to be a pistol in a thigh-type holster while breaking open the door, according to the affidavit. He removed the firearm before entering the business.

What made police suspect Tutor in the end was his vehicle. 

Two days after the burglary, a Wyoming Downs employee who was familiar with the video saw a Jeep Grand Cherokee similar to the one in the video and followed it on Westover to Trail Street.

Police searched Tutor’s SUV and his home. During the search of the Jeep, officers found a sledge hammer with a blue head and holster, a pry bar and an empty leg holster and a handgun, according to the affidavit.

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Les Schwab announces plan to purchase Plains Tire Co. of Wyoming

ROCK SPRINGS — Plains Tire, Wyoming’s largest and oldest tire company in operation since 1941, will soon be owned by Les Schwab Tire Centers. 

Les Schwab will purchase Plains Tire for an undisclosed sum, said Les Schwab CEO Jack Cuniff in a press release from the company. 

Plains Tire has nine full-service automotive stores in Laramie, Rock Springs, Gillette, Evanston, Casper, Sheridan, Riverton and Green River. 

In the release from Les Schwab, Plains Tire owner Larry Nicholls said Les Schwab is the “right buyer at the right time.” 

“Being part of Les Schwab, a company consistently rated the best in the tire industry, will create even more opportunity for our people, and I know our employees, customers and communities will be well cared for,” Nicholls said. “I don’t believe I could have found a better partner than Les Schwab to sell our family’s company to, and I’m excited to watch these stores grow and flourish.” 

Les Schwab plans to continue growing organically by opening its own new stores, but also to “proactively pursue other expansion and buy-out opportunities,” said Chief Administrative Officer Corey Parks, who leads the company’s expansion and development initiatives. 

No changes will be made immediately for the Plains Tire stores while Les Schwab evaluates how best to integrate the two companies. 

The sale is expected to close in early August. Les Schwab Tire Centers has more than 7,000 employees and 500 locations across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska.

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Colorado man allegedly led crime spree through Jackson Hole

JACKSON — A string of missing items including a gun, bicycles and sporting equipment has been traced back to one potential thief.

Jackson police officers are investigating a 26-year-old Denver resident who they believe came to Jackson from June 30 through July 5 to commit a series of theft crimes.

Video from the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar shows the man stealing purses from two women and pickpocketing a third on the night of July 2. The stolen items included cash, credit cards and cell phones, police said in a media release issued Thursday. The suspect reportedly ditched some of the stolen items in a trash can in the men’s restroom.

Because the suspect paid for drinks at the Cowboy using a credit card with his name, detectives were able to trace the crime back to a Colorado person with “an extensive criminal history.”

Police also believe that the man stole a firearm from inside a vehicle when he was in town.

During that time period, East Jackson residents and visitors reported missing bicycles and high-dollar sporting equipment like internal frame backpacks, Jackson police Lt. Russ Ruschill told the Jackson Hole Daily.

“We call them theft tourists,” Ruschill said of the alleged burglar. “They go to a target-rich environment and steal everything that’s not nailed down.”

Alongside the Broomfield, Colorado, Police Department, Jackson police secured an arrest warrant for the suspect. During the search of his residence, officers found a firearm that matched the one stolen from Jackson. They also found several items believed to have been stolen from vehicles in Grand Teton National Park, the release stated.

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